Unlock Successful Life Balance with Practical Boundaries | By Jenn Danielson

We are so often a society of Yes. How frequently do (you or) your clients take on extra projects, problems or work when your plate is already full? How many of your clients are even aware of their own plate is already full?

Whether you've got a client with a new goal, a frustrated client (because they never seem to get anything done) or a client in full overwhelm, it's time to talk about boundaries!

The good news is: boundaries do not have to be limiting. The other good news is: sometimes they have to be - and these boundaries will create beautiful space for your client succeed in their goals. Jenn Danielson

Values and Priorities: The First Pieces of Information

In order to set boundaries, we must first be clear on what we want to achieve, what's important to us. Your client's values and priorities, and the urgency and importance of each project or goal, will define how much time and energy they need in a day, week or month.

To help my clients, I love using expansive questions, calendar models, the wheel of life, mind maps and grids to fully identify, connect and align a client with their values, goals, projects - and life. This sets the groundwork for creating steps to success.

And for our overly-committed clients, boundary setting is essential - and the counterpart to accountability.

Because we all so often want to please others, and also have own guilt and accomplishment to manage, setting "boundaries" can feel unduly harsh or limiting. The good news is: boundaries do not have to be limiting. The other good news is: sometimes they have to be - and these boundaries will create beautiful space for your client succeed in their goals.

Unlock Life Balance with These 4 Types of Practical Boundaries

1. The Fence-ish

This is a modifiable boundary.

It looks like a boundary. It feels like a boundary yet, on closer inspection, it's not that difficult to step around or over. In a world where flexibility and continued re-assessment of work/life balance is almost mandatory this can be a good option. Your client can maintain choice and is able to make a conscious decision to side-step or invite a new work-around.

What this looks like:

  • Defined boundaries eg. allocated time for self or scheduled commitments.
  • Defined space for flexibility eg. a little padding in the project budget.
  • Having alternatives ready for a challenging colleague or family member eg. a compromise or solution that suits you.

2. The Fence. For Real

This looks like a boundary. It feels like a boundary. And it is a boundary. It's a hard stop.

There are some things in life and work that are simply non-negotiable. These often relate to our deepest and critically important values and priorities. Identification and awareness of these strong boundaries is imperative to our client's successes. These are the non-negotiables.

Even spoof Twitter accounts grasp the necessity of this one:

What this looks like:

  • Non-negotiable values-based decisions eg. leaving a career or saying no to a commitment.
  • Allocating clear and strictly managed times for work, family or projects.

3. Distance

This is a passive boundary.

When there is temptation of a shiny new thing, or an unhelpful distraction, your client can create a mental or physical distance between themselves and those distractions. This distance helps prevent overwhelm or distraction from goals and priorities.

What this looks like:

  • A sabbatical or vacation - creating physical distance from a project or person.
  • De-prioritize and deferring the timing of a less important project or goal - for now - to create time distance.
  • Focus diligently on the current goal, to create mental space from other potential distractions.

4. The Open Door

This boundary is a modifiable "Yes" and can be a great option for the self-aware and flexible.

In the same vein as the first type of boundary of "Fence-ish", the "Open Door" is a comforting if not fully functional boundary. It's inviting and flexible; great for the curious and adaptive.

And what's great about the "Open Door" is that it can easily become a firm boundary with the turn of a handle - providing your client can recognise when closed doors are needed.

What this looks like:

  • Flexible management of time and goals.
  • Clear awareness and recognition of limits.
  • The ability to prioritize new items as they arise, and manage previous commitments.


There are many ways to incorporate, adjust and mix different types of boundaries. Which type your client uses will depend a great deal on your client, and on each situation. For many, the "Open Door" will be very difficult for people to manage - and still take care of their own priorities. And for others, a full "Fence" is simply too rigid.

As a coach, asking clarifying questions to assist your client in defining their specific boundaries - and identifying the values that inform them - will create the framework and boundaries your client needs.

Help your client define boundaries and create the best space in which to work and live so they create their best results!

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Contributing Author:

Jenn Danielson brings science and spreadsheets together with incense and energy to help people create balanced growth. With a background in science, standards and project management along with solution-focused coaching, Reiki and mindful practices, she supports people creating their next best steps, through anxious moments and conversations, and within the bigger picture of their lives. Connect the dots and walk the balance of career, health, self, family & transition. Visit Jenn's website to learn more and connect on social media

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Image of Frustrated Client in Box by Sergey Nivens via Shutterstock

Image of Fences and Trees, by the article author, by Jenn Danielson

Image of Doors, by the article author, by Jenn Danielson

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